We sat down with the founders of this course and asked them a few questions…
What motivated you to develop this online course?
Gina: Anne had been talking about creating a 1 year course in Ayurveda and a 1 year course in herbal medicine for years and years. Around 2010, we were working on writing a book together, Calm Mind Joyful Heart, focused on Ayurveda’s wisdom of taking care of mind and emotions. Online courses were just becoming available and I had the thought that this might be a dynamic and interactive way to present the teachings of heart and mind and reach more people. I proposed to Anne that I help her create the 1 year course in Ayurveda in an online format and then from there, we could create an advanced online course from our Calm Mind Joyful Heart material that we had been working on. She agreed and Living Wisdom The Foundations of Ayurveda began!
Anne: I have been writing and teaching about Ayurveda for many years in the UK, Europe and USA and feel that there may be many more people around the world who would like to learn about Ayurveda than those who are able to reach me for classes. Gradually people are hearing more about Ayurveda and all the wonderful wisdom it has to offer us, but Ayurveda still remains largely unknown. I wanted to find another avenue to help people find out more and felt that presenting it in the form of an online course would be particularly helpful for those who want to go into Ayurveda in more depth than can be gained from reading a book. I was writing the course over a number of years as I rarely have enough time to devote to writing being busy with my clinical practice and teaching, so Gina offered to help me finish writing and develop it into a course. I very gratefully accepted her offer!
How did you two meet?
Gina: I took a course on Ayurveda and aromatherapy at Deb Soule’s Avena Botanicals in Maine around 2003 and Anne was the teacher. I came in late and sat right beside her so we struck up conversations at breaks. She had heard of and was interested in Polarity therapy which was somewhat rare and we just seemed to speak the same language and have a natural affinity for each other!
Anne: I was teaching about Ayurveda at Avena Botanicals in Maine, where Deb Soule has developed what I consider to be the most beautiful herb garden in the world! Gina came as a student on the course and we immediately resonated with each other and a friendship developed. We taught several times together to students that Gina had gathered in Portland Maine and at Avena, which was really enjoyable. We complement each other very well.
When were you introduced to ayurveda?
Gina: While I was a student of Polarity Therapy in 1997, I began to learn the foundational concepts of Ayurveda. The Osteopath who developed polarity therapy studied in India and Ayurvedic principles are at the root of the philosophy and practice.
Anne: I was introduced to the wisdom on India when I was sixteen and I read as much as I could of the Indian scriptures and philosophy and started to practice meditation. At 18 I took a year out and travelled overland to India to discover the source of all this wisdom and returned to university to study comparative religion. In all this time never heard about Ayurveda! When I was 23 I started to study herbal medicine and once qualified as a herbalist after the four year course I went on to study Aromatherapy, remedial massage, homoeopathy and counselling. It was not until I was in my early 30s that I heard about Ayurveda and immediately jumped at the idea of studying intensively. I did a three year course and also seized any opportunity I could to study with Ayurvedic doctors from India and Sri Lanka when they visited the UK. I was lucky enough to do a specialisation in gynaecology, obstetrics and paediatrics with a visiting doctor from Sri Lanka which was a particular interest of mine from a Western Herbal perspective. I have never looked back and am still eager to leap at any chance to learn more about the wonders of Ayurveda!
What advice do you give to new students?
Gina: Have a study plan of the hours you will spend each week and goals of when you will complete each lessons. Talk to family and friends about what you’re learning and apply the wisdom and practices to your everyday life. Take the time to do all the experiential parts and see and feel for yourself and in your own mind body what the rishi’s, the wise women and men of India, discovered.
Anne: To take it slowly. If you were studying Ayurveda in India you would study over 6 years, so we do not expect those new to Ayurvedic concepts to grasp them immediately. Ayurveda can be a very new way of seeing things especially if you are accustomed to understanding medicine from an allopathic perspective. Remembering the Sanskrit terms can also be challenging but we use them as they make a very useful shorthand for understanding many parts of Ayurvedic philosophy and practice.
What’s your favorite lesson of the course? Why?
Gina: Well I have a few favorites….Living the Sattvic Way (Lesson 14) and Balancing Heart and Mind (lesson 20) connects very deeply with the work I do in my polarity therapy practice; and meditation and sattvic living is a central focus of my life. I’m so energized by the teachings on Rejuvenation and Longevity (Lesson 21) and the herbal lesson (11) is packed full of so much valuable knowledge about our healing plants allies.
Anne: My favourite lesson of the course is Lesson 9, Ayurveda the Heart and the Mind. I love the Ayurvedic view of the subtle anatomy of the heart and mind/ Here is so much wisdom available for us to live our lives the sattvic way, enhancing our best intentions and highest wishes to be calm, peaceful, compassionate, loving and wise individuals, helping us to realise our full potential as human beings…nothing short of Moksha or pure bliss!
Anything else you’d like to tell your students?
Gina: The wisdom, framework and practices of Ayurveda continue to support and inspire me on a daily basis and may this be a deep and healing resource for you, too.
Anne: When teaching about Ayurveda, I feel it is important to honour the ancient tradition from which it comes and to discuss the history and philosophy of Ayurveda. So this is what we have done for the first lesson of the course. This can seem complicated and slightly daunting to some people, so I would love to encourage you to read it and move on quickly as it will all make sense as you go further into the course. I am teaching workshops several times a year from my home in the Cotswolds UK which can augment the learning from the online class, particularly for aspects of the course that can seem more complicated in the written word. . also we have an online forum and Facebook page so that all the students can “meet” each other and chat among themselves, which can be helpful when you’re studying on your own.